There’s a sly edginess to characters who’ll do anything to be eaten, but this particular pickled sourpuss loses his tang as...


As some ingredients have more flavor before cooking, this edible protagonist has more flavor before he learns his lesson.

The punny title’s “caper” is a brined flower bud, the kind that lands on plates for eating—well, eating by some people. “[A] caper is a tiny pickled sourpuss, who lives in a jar in your fridge and is never eaten by children.” Adults effuse, “Ciao, Mr. Caper, delicioso!!!” and, “Ya Meester Caper, ve luv you!!!” But the grouchy caper seethes with jealousy of a tall red lollipop who’s desired by children. So Mr. Caper executes a caper—he sneaks into a factory and pours a beaker of green liquid—caper flavoring—into vats of lollipop batter in order to make unwitting children “appreciate my complex flavor.” Worldwide, children lick green lollies, turn green with nausea and start “acting in the most appalling ways.” They upend trash cans, stick out their tongues and bring home bad grades. Moral: Capers can only ever be an acquired taste, and this remorseful one must wait until the kids grow up. Krall’s shiny digital illustrations are cartoony and bold, with some Grinch-like expressions and dramatic composition. One Everykid-likes-lollipops spread could be straight from Disney’s “It’s a Small World.”

There’s a sly edginess to characters who’ll do anything to be eaten, but this particular pickled sourpuss loses his tang as he lowers his expectations. (Picture book. 4-7)

Pub Date: May 7, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4424-4460-7

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: March 19, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2013

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A strong series start.


From the Press Start! series , Vol. 1

In a video game, a superpowered rabbit must rescue a singing dog that brings everyone happiness.

In the frame story, a brown-skinned human protagonist plays a video game on a handheld console evocative of the classic Nintendo Gameboy. The bulk of the book relates the game’s storyline: Animal Town is a peaceful place where everyone is delighted by Singing Dog, until the fun-hating King Viking (whose black-mustachioed, pink-skinned looks reference the Super Mario Brothers game series villain, Wario) uses his army of robots to abduct Singing Dog. To save Singing Dog—and fun—the animals send the fastest among them, Simon the Hedgehog, to get Super Rabbit Boy (who gains speed and jumping powers by eating special carrots) to save the day. The chapters take Super Rabbit Boy through video game levels, with classic, video game–style settings and enemies. Throughout the book, when the game’s player loses either a life in the game or the game entirely, the unnamed kid must choose to persevere and not give up. The storylines are differentiated by colorful art styles—cartoonish for the real world, 8-bit pixel-sprite–style for the game. The fast, repetitive plot uses basic, simple sentences and child-friendly objects of interest, such as lakes of lava, for children working on reading independence, while the nerdy in-jokes benefit adults reading with a child.

A strong series start. (Early reader. 5-7)

Pub Date: Jan. 3, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-338-03472-1

Page Count: 80

Publisher: Branches/Scholastic

Review Posted Online: Sept. 18, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2016

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These reindeer games are a bit tired but, given the series’ popularity, should have a large, ready-made audience.


The How to Catch A… crew try for Comet.

Having already failed to nab a Halloween witch, the Easter Bunny, a turkey, a leprechaun, the Tooth Fairy, and over a dozen other iconic trophies in previous episodes of this bestselling series, one would think the racially diverse gaggle of children in Elkerton’s moonlit, wintry scenes would be flagging…but no, here they lay out snares ranging from a loop of garland to an igloo baited with reindeer moss to an enticing candy cane maze, all in hopes of snagging one of Santa’s reindeer while he’s busy delivering presents. Infused with pop culture–based Christmas cheer (“Now I’ve already seen the shelf with the elf”), Comet prances past the traps until it’s time to gather up the kids, most of whom look terrified, for a group snapshot with the other reindeer and then climb back into harness: “This was a great stop but a few million to go / Christmas Eve must continue with style!” Though festive, the verse feels trite and unlikely to entice youngsters. A sprinkling of “True Facts About Reindeer” (“They live in the tundra, where they have friends like the arctic bunny”) wrap up this celebration of the predatory spirit. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

These reindeer games are a bit tired but, given the series’ popularity, should have a large, ready-made audience. (Picture book. 5-7)

Pub Date: Oct. 4, 2022

ISBN: 9781728276137

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Sourcebooks Wonderland

Review Posted Online: Dec. 12, 2022

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